Miguel Cabrera was the favored son of the Saturday crowd in Miami. However, the work of Beau Brieske and Joey Wentz took center stage, while Akil Baddoo and Riley Greene provided the power as the Tigers won 5-0.
The Tigers plan in this one was to start Beau Brieske and then switch to lefty Joey Wentz the second time through the order. Things got off on the right foot.
The Tigers went in order against Johnny Cueto in the top of the first. Brieske allowed a lead off single to Luis Arraez, which is going to happen. However, he punched out Jorge Soler whiffing on a sinker. Bryan De La Cruz flew out to Riley Greene, and Garrett Cooper struck out swinging over a nasty changeup after Brieske set him up with 97-98 mph fastballs.
Kerry Carpenter flew out to open the second, but Javier Báez drew his second walk in as many days, stunning the Marlins crowd. At that point, Miguel Cabrera strode to the dish as the faithful got to their feet to give him a standing ovation. It was Venezuelan Heritage Day at LoanDepot Park, and so the fix was in. The big man took it in stride, joking with Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings before stepping out of the box to tip his cap in acknowledgement of the fans. He then drilled a one-hopper over the wall in right for an automatic double. Nick Maton struck out, but Akil Baddoo did not. 3-0 Tigers.
Brieske had a little more trouble in the second. He got a pair of soft ground outs, but Jean Segura singled through the left side, and then Stallings pulled a ground ball down the line that Zach McKinstry snared well behind third base but then threw wide of first. Fortunately, former Tigers outfield prospect — we may have given up just in time for him to break out — Dane Myers drilled a line drive right at Baddoo in left to end the inning.
Beau Brieske's 2 1st Inning Ks. pic.twitter.com/j5R1dpJLt6— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 29, 2023
The Tigers went in order in the third inning. In the bottom half, Wentz took over and immediately Arraez greeted him with a bloop hit into shallow right field. Wentz struck out Soler, and De La Cruz flew out to left. Cooper singled Arraez to third, but Jon Berti — the pride of Troy, Michigan — flew out to Greene in center field to end the inning.
The Tigers again went quickly in order as Carpenter lined out and Báez and Cabrera pulled ground balls to left side for outs. Wentz allowed a two-out walk to Stalling, but Myers grounded into a force of Stallings at second to send this to the fifth still 3-0 Tigers.
Nick Maton led off the fifth with a solid single to right. Baddoo flew out and Eric Haase struck out. McKinstry got a fastball right where he wanted in a 1-1 count and drove one deep to right, but De La Cruz hauled it in on the warning track without issue.
Wentz fell behind Arraez to start the bottom half, but bounced back with a pair of well located fastballs to strike him out. Soler followed with a lined single to right, but Wentz blew away De La Cruz with a fastball above his hands and then carved up Cooper with a nasty changeup to send it to the sixth.
Riley Greene started the sixth by drilling a fastball to the opposite field just past the foul pole for his eighth home run on the year. 4-0 Tigers. Torkelson jammed himself in a 3-1 count and hit a little bliner to Joey Wendle at shortstop. Carpenter flew out again, and Báez struck out to send it to bottom half.
Wentz really had his command of all four primary pitches in this one and showed it again in the bottom of the sixth. He got Berti swinging over a curveball for the first out, while Wendle and Segura were retired on a routine ground ball and then a soft comebacker to Wentz.
Steven Okert took over from Cueto in the seventh. He struck out Cabrera with a high fastball but Zack Short pinch-hit for Maton against the lefty and ripped a double to left. Matt Vierling pinch-hit for Baddoo and pulled a hard ground ball that Wendle made a nice diving stop on, but then threw wildly to first. Vierling was safe, and Short took third on the throwing error. Haase flew out to right and Short tried to tag and score but was narrowly cut down at home. The Tigers challenge was rejected and the call on the field upheld.
Wentz backdoored Stallings with a cutter on the edge that the catcher whiffed on. Myers singled on a play that should have been an error on McKinstry at third as he dropped the ball and then pulled Torkelson off the bag with the throw. It didn’t matter as Wentz got Arraez to fly out to left. AJ Hinch went to Jason Foley against the dangerous lefty-masher, Soler, and Foley got a routine ground ball to short that ended the inning.
McKinstry led off the eighth with a walk against Jorge Lopez, but got doubled off when Riley Greene smoked a line drive that Arraez dove and picked before throwing to first before McKinstry could get back to the bag. Torkelson grounded out.
Foley walked De La Cruz to open the bottom half, and then he and Cooper locked up in a lengthy battle that featured six foul balls. Foley tried expanding the zone down for ball one, and then pulled a wild pitch in the dirt that allowed De La Cruz to take second. Another foul on a 99.5 mph sinker followed, the 10th pitch of the AB. Finally Cooper grounded out for the first out of the inning, De La Cruz advancing to third.
Foley’s struggles to locate brought Chris Fetter out for a chat, but Foley’s first pitch to Berti was a slider in the dirt that Haase just managed to block. Foley located a couple of high sinkers for a foul and a ball, and eventually dialed up 99 mph again and got him swinging on the inner edge. At that point, with Joey Wendle coming up, Hinch made the intriguing move of going to southpaw Tyler Holton. That got Wendle out of the game, as the Marlins pinch-hit Yuli Gurriel. Holton fired a pair of fastballs to get ahead 0-2, and then missed with a changeup before blowing him away with a high fastball that Gurriel couldn’t hold up on.
JT Chargois took over for the top of the ninth, with Berti moving from left field to shortstop, and Garrett Hampson coming in to replace Gurriel in the lineup and take over from Berti in left field.
Kerry Carpenter worked his way to a full count to lead off the inning but was frozen by a breaking ball on the outer edge. Báez worked a full count and then took a slider for a called strike three. More of that please. Gotta strike out looking more. I’m not kidding.
At that point Miguel Cabrera strafed a ground ball back up the middle to the approval of the crowd, which gave him another huge standing ovation as Jake Rogers came in to pinch-run. Zack Short then smoked a sinker on the inner edge to center field, missing a homer by a few feet. The ball rattled off the wall as Rogers burned it first to home to make it 5-0. Vierling grounded out to end the inning.
Alex Lange entered in the non-save situation, with Hinch perhaps trying to help get his confidence going with some margin for error to work with. Segura grounded one right back to Lange for the first out. Jesus Sanchez pinch-hit for Stallings but Lange carved him up and Dane Myers grounded out to end it.
After starting off the season looking pretty washed up, Cabrera has righted the ship, producing a 103 wRC+ with a .361 OBP since May 1. What could’ve been a sad year of Cabrera basically benched and collecting gifts each series while functioning as pure dead weight on the roster, has turned into a proper sendoff for one of the greatest hitters of all-time, and I’m relieved and thankful it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as I dreaded it would be at this point in the season.
LHP Tarik Skubal will take on LHP Jesus Luzardo on Sunday at 1:40 p.m. ET to determine the series winner.